Prosecution in Barron case will drop capital charges, focus on first-degree murder charge

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey speaks with his public defender, Morgan Taggart-Hampton, during his final pretrial hearing in Keene at Cheshire County Superior Court Friday morning. Barron is accused of murdering Jonathan Amerault of Keene. His trial is set to begin in May. HANNAH SCHROEDER/ KEENE SENTINEL

  • Judge Elizabeth Leonard begins Armando Barron’s final pretrial hearing at Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene Friday morning. HANNAH SCHROEDER/ KEENE SENTINEL

  • Armando Barron of Jaffrey enters a Cheshire County Superior Court room in Keene for his final pretrial hearing Friday morning. Barron is accused of murdering Jonathan Amerault of Keene. His trial is set to begin in May. (Hannah Schroeder/ Sentinel Staff) HANNAH SCHROEDER/ KEENE SENTINEL

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/22/2022 11:33:52 AM
Modified: 4/22/2022 11:32:36 AM

Prosecutors in the murder trial of Armando Barron of Jaffrey announced during the final pretrial hearing on Friday they would no longer be seeking conviction on a capital murder charge, instead focusing on a first-degree murder charge.

Barron, who is accused of luring Jonathan Amerault, 25, of Keene, to a secluded area in Annett Wayside Park in Rindge, where he allegedly beat him, attempted to coerce his wife Britany to murder him and shot and killed him, was accused of multiple counts of assault against both his wife and Amerault, solicitation of murder and first-degree and capital murder.

Prosecutor Benjamin Agati informed the Cheshire County Superior Court that the decision to dismiss the capital murder charge is based on the fact that since New Hampshire’s abolishment of the death penalty, capital and first-degree murder charges carry the same potential sentence – life without parole. However, Agati said in a capital murder case, the defense is allowed up to 20 disqualifications of potential jurors, while the prosecution is allowed 10. In a first-degree murder case, each side is allowed 15.

The appearance was also intended to be an arraignment for Barron, who was initially arraigned following his arrest, but had not been arraigned following his indictment. Public defender Meredith Lugo, representing Barron, agreed to waive the arraignment, and confirmed Barron’s intent to plead not guilty.

Jury selection begins in early May, and is anticipated to take between three and five days. Once the jury is selected, jury members will be taken to several sites they will be hearing about during the trial, including the Jaffrey Center on Main Street and Annett Wayside Park in Rindge.

Leading up to the final pretrial hearing, Judge Elizabeth M. Leonard filed several orders based on objections to potential evidence.

Leonard ordered that utterances made by Amerault prior to his death, as conveyed by Britany Barron to police, that he would no longer see Britany, pleading for his life and asking Britany Barron to take a machete that had been used to cut Amerault and use it to kill Armando Barron were all admissible as “excited utterances,” which bypasses hearsay laws.

Leonard also will allow the testimony of criminalist Emily Rice of the New Hampshire State Laboratory, relating to shoe impressions found on Amerault’s head. Rice found similarities in characteristics between the prints and shoes belonging to Armando Barron, but could not conclusively determine his shoes were the ones that made the prints. Barron’s defense objected to the inclusion of her testimony, but Leonard concluded it would be allowed, and concerns about the validity of the match  could be made on cross-examination.

Leonard also required the state to identify any calls from Armando Barron while in prison they intend to introduce at trial by Ma y 2.

 Ashley Saari can be  reached  at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on  Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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